BY the end of October in New England you are aware that the sun is doing more for South America than for North. Night comes early. Winter is blowing through the crack of those adamantine doors which Blake begged him to keep shut.
The north is thine!’
he calls out, as he feels the same wind and swirling rain I felt as I went through the crooked streets of Boston on my way to the South Station.
And on a novel errand for a man who was heretofore only one of the thousands who go there to take trains in accordance with the convention by which you buy a ticket and get on a car. For I bought a ticket and got on a locomotive.
Locomotives have been a stirring part of the scenery since our prehistoric youth, at which time they were so small and so highly decorated and had such exaggerated smokestacks and cowcatchers, and were so much more friendly than they are now. Yet nobody ever asked us to ride on one. We did not know railroad people. We knew schoolteachers, we knew the milkman. We did not even know the driver of the horse car.
It was the same with ships. South Street, New York, used to be a colonnade under the bowsprits and figureheads of great square-riggers whose masts and spars made a network of wood and ropes for blocks. It never occurred to us to arrange for a passage somewhere, anywhere, as cabin boy, as apprentice — as young Dana did, and Melville, and Bone and Masefield. It never occurred to our parents or their friends to discuss such things. They did n’t approve of Melville or Dana. We were engaged in preparing for life. And there was the ‘next life,’ too — we were required to prepare for that. Two futures to prepare for!
Once you get caught in these deadly routines of ‘preparation’ you begin to miss too much. You make yourself as much as possible like the people who are missing most of the significance of being alive and well on a planet like this. How shall we sufficiently acknowledge and celebrate this stupendous privilege of being alive and well and not too poor or not too rich?
The thing to do, of course, is to live to the brim of every day, in youth as in age, and not think, as the school people do and as people in suburban houses and city flats do, that preparation for life — as they call it — consists in filling your little receptacle with a kind of clockwork which will strike the hours and point off the minutes of innumerable duplicate days, slightly colored by marriage, until you run down and stop, and case and works are put away forever.
And preparation for living on this planet must therefore include more than knowing a little group of people who occupy only a very small area. The most exhilarating and fertilizing thing a person can do who has been born into one of these restricted areas and who is expected to spend his life there is to break out and thenceforth go and come and be a pollen carrier. Without this cross-fertilization the mind poisons itself with its secretions.
The steam locomotive is, when all is said that, can be said for other devices, about the most dramatic expression of hand and mind coöperation. It is a magnificent piece of craftsmanship. It is the noblest of articulated tools. It fills the whole demand of the imagination as a thing to ride on across the country. A horse is a great and mysterious thing and Job did not overdraw the picture of him, his neck clothed with thunder, pawing in the valley, the glory of his nostrils terrible. But this beast which stands here in the rainstreaked night on its 4-6-2 chassis, weighing 360,000 pounds, this amazing simulacrum of life, breathing gently with its duplex air pumps, humming slightly at the safety valve, gleaming faintly on its polished sinews, a huge demonic figure condensed from the darkness, a djinni of the Arabian Nights tied to a string of fourteen cars which it is prepared to drag in a furious rush to New Haven en route to New York and Washington — this beast, I say, is the most impressive symbol of the courage and craftsmanship of man since the clipper-ship era.
And it will presently be gone, — as the clipper ship went, — and the expressionless electric and Diesel locomotives, efficient and cold, will change poetry into prose on the railroads of the country.
It is a symbol also of the faith man has in the stability of Nature. He will ride on anything he makes and die doing it, until he has found out what runs parallel with her laws, what she will support. Thereafter he is happy in their mutual confidence.
He forgets that the same rule holds in the metaphysical as in the physical, and invites fearful personal and national catastrophes as the cosmic mechanism — which no invention or solicitation ever modified a hair’s breadth — rolls along and grinds him to pieces, as in the war.
It is also an expression of that mysterious inscrutable mind, a burning-glass which brings to a focus the rays of elemental creativeness; and, in the intense light and heat of that focus, raw material, as we call it, is cooked, and things are ‘ manu-factured,’ by that magic of hand and brain coöperation.
When you pile up on the stage of human history the things men have made with their hands, from the time they squatted outside a cave and hit two pieces of flint together to the time of the two-hundred-inch telescope just emerging, and then set a man in front of that pile, you will understand better than by any other demonstration, perhaps, in song or story, the divinity resident in that portentous figure. And when you add both song and story it is just possible to believe that the universe has come to its final flowering and to realize that the only important thing in the universe is personality, as Professor Whitehead says.
In the cold wind and rain out beyond the train shed this gaunt monster disclosed very little evidence that there was any ‘go’ in it. A little gleam from an occasional cinder falling into the ash pan, a small wisp of steam blown sharply away from a cylinder cock — the only signs that the original sun and sea were there.
But there they were, those ancient conspirators, and around them had been assembled a very intricate and ponderous pattern of steel and iron which they must stir when the time comes, the little cell they made in Eozoic time having grown up and woven this net which they can’t escape from without doing some work, the cell having developed into what is called ‘homo sapiens.’ Water, stimulated by a hot enough fire, transforms itself into a vapor and seeks every crack and cranny to escape, to get back to the easy life of the atmosphere and the grand cycles of rain, river, and sea. But before it can resume that game, this man whom it and fire created, whose blood is still the ancient sea, makes it turn his wheel and roll him to his destination.
The locomotive of 1930 has added no basic idea to Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ of 1829 or Peter Cooper’s ‘Tom Thumb’ of 1830. It is still a boiler on a wagon with provision for turning the wheels through the mechanism of cylinders, pistons, and rods, and reversing the motion when desired. As the demands increased for more power and speed it has added weight and durability, strength, safety, and economy, and taken on the beauty which perfected tools invariably display.
Starting as a pile of red dirt in the back yard of some blast furnace, the elements which have been finally assembled here have been the object of the utmost care and devotion all the way up. The chemical composition and physical structure have been subjected to unremitting scrutiny and only the quality suitable for these exacting requirements retained.
It is interesting to note that one of the most debilitating elements in steel — the yellow streak — is phosphorus, a poison introduced from the organic world, from the bones of prehistoric animals. When the animal kingdom invades the mineral you can’t trust mineral to hold together under severe strain, especially in cold weather. A little too much phosphorus and, on some bitter night as the Transcontinental is roaring across the states, a piece of poisoned steel lets go and the whole organism crashes fearfully.
Tensile strength and elastic limit are subjects for much consideration, and therefore there are physical as well as chemical tests.
It is necessary to have hardness enough to wear well and yet avoid brittleness. It must take a prodigious pull to stretch this stuff, say 100,000 pounds per square inch, but it must stretch, it must bend, before it breaks. Hardness combined with toughness is the idea. Boiler plate gets this toughness— its chemical composition being suitable — by rolling, driving and side rods by forging, and driving wheels by annealing. When you roll or forge steel you produce a structure somewhat analogous to hickory — fibrous, dense, resilient, durable. When you anneal driving wheels you give these steel castings, which had to cool from a liquid condition and temperature of more than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit in a hard sand mould, a chance to adjust their molecules where they were strained by the shrinkage of one quarter inch per foot and by the nature of the design. This rapid adjustment to atmospheric temperature produces lines of weakness here and there, and driving wheels are given a chance to adjust these by a period of calm detachment in an annealing furnace which gently and slowly reduces internal tensions until you have an integrated wheel — a wheel not divided against ilself.
Certain elements such as nickel, vanadium, chromium, are introduced into steel where great strains are to be withstood, and copper to secure immunity to rust.
For it is a characteristic of refined steel, of what you might call high-bred steel, to greet the companion of its humbler days — namely, oxygen — with enthusiasm and hasten back to where it came from, the pit out of which it was digged. A small dose of copper or nickel spoils the taste for this reunion which promises nothing but disaster, and all oxygen can do thereafter is stand outside and gaze at its old associate engaged in its distinguished career.
The shop where this locomotive was created piece by piece is an austere place filled with very purposeful apparatus and people. Each building has its special contribution to make and all conspire to get those contributions moving in an orderly manner toward the last building of all — the erecting shop.
Boiler plate, in immense thunderous sheets an inch thick, is marked by people who spend their lives marking boiler plate in accordance with drawings, so that when that plate is cut and drilled and bent into shape it will fit exactly to itself and to its neighbor. Very calm and deliberate and silent hydraulic hands — thumb and finger — pinch red-hot rivets and gradually sew this thick fabric together.
Presses mould certain heavy shapes as if they were pasteboard. Men climb over, under, and inside these resounding creations with pneumatic caulking hammers and destroy their hearing with apparent complacency. One is sure that this indifference to so vital a channel to the mind as hearing is due to the sad fact that these people never had a chance to realize the values that come that way, and feel that at twenty or thirty they have heard enough.
Cylinders are cast in moulds made by men who are specialists in mould making and who are served by pattern makers who take the intricate productions of the drafting room and turn them into wood in such a way that the moulder can lift them out of the sand, which he has packed around them with much care, and leave a perfect negative.
Frames are cast in the same way, also driving-wheel centres and many other things.
In the intense white light of molten steel and the gold of cast iron, with bursts of scintillating sparks and curtains of acrid smoke rolling up into the blackness of the roof, the scene is right for the Wagnerian orchestra and the music of the Nibelungen, the underground people, the submerged, illuminated and dramatic enough — and exploited enough. Strange how young that old saga keeps. There seems to be no outliving it.
You are even more conscious of this in the forge shop where the hammers are shaking the earth with the crashing clamor of their blows, rained on red-hot steel, often weighing tons, held in tongs and twisted and turned by groups of sweating men who make a Jiving by satisfying the demands of steam hammers for something worth pounding to pound on.
A cool and clean person, — a so-called ‘educated’ person, — who does not make his living by any kind of handwork, may easily feel very uncomfortable in the presence of these men of the forge shop in their leather aprons, especially in May, June, July, August, September, any day of those glorious months of the precious summer, spent in prodigious physical effort and profuse perspiration. And at the end of such a career — what? What do you contribute in your department that will balance this account, and is there any danger that the balance may one day be so far ‘in the red’ that the social structure will turn over and the cool people be horrified — as the bugs are when you turn over the flat stone and the light floods in? The centre of gravity may get outside the base.
Machine tools of every variety, with a human accessory attached to each, plane and bore and mill and drill until each casting is an exact copy in three dimensions of a detailed blue print which is part of a general drawing which follows in every particular the specification of the purchasing railroad, which knows exactly what it wants in the way of motive power out of this particular engine. For it knows its own geographical problems, its fuel, its water, and the weight of its cars loaded and empty, its grades, its curves, and its time-tables.
The general drawing is a picture of a locomotive which will combine the competencies required. And the general drawing is consummated in the assembly shop.
Tires have been shrunk on to wheel centres, axles pressed into hubs, bushings into cylinders, frames, wheels, and boilers put together. Everything flows toward the assembly shop. Nothing once started that way turns back, and in an incredibly short time that huge fabrication stands there in cold passivity, swarmed over by men attaching the smaller things.
Until, on a certain day, water in the boiler, fire in the fire box, a smell of hot oil, a slight sizzle somewhere, and a slow turning of that lean finger past figures on the dial, 5 pounds, 10 pounds, as the intestine in that gauge straightens out with growing emotion, up to 250 pounds.
A man in the cab looks out to see that everybody is clear, pulls a lever a half inch; there is a slight rushing sound at the cylinders, a deep groan, and the giant rolls out in the dew of its metallic youth — unconscious, competent, tireless, with a raging appetite for coal.
Such, in a few words, is the Genesis and Exodus of the machine which now stands ready to make one of its headlong passages to New Haven, where its burden will be assumed by a machine of a different species whose fire and water are miles away in some power house, and which has no emotions of its own, but must keep hold of a string and be pulled before it can pull anything at all.
Pacific 4-6-2 stands boring out into the rain-streaked night with its Cyclopean eye. It. has before it the familiar pattern of tracks and colored lights, low and high. Behind stretch the long heavy cars, four baggage and express and ten Pullman, diminishing in perspective and dotted with yellow lights from warm interiors steadily populated by insectean humans such as fill train after train without knowing or caring to know what is involved in getting them to their destination. Certainly it costs a great deal more than the price of their tickets. What things cost is not measured so simply. There is a more exacting bill against our perception of values which we don’t pay, but which stands against us and is eventually paid.
Redcaps and porters are completing the loading of Pullmans and scurrying electric trucks of baggage and express cars. The fireman has finished his preliminary tasks and lights a cigarette. The engineer is still poking the long nose of his oil can among the ribs of his mountainous steed. There is an intimacy between these two. The man has a great feeling for its comfort and knows just where the shoe may pinch.
Metallic joints which move must not touch. Whenever they do, particularly under heavy loads, the temperature rises and, with a shriek, paralysis strikes in with its knotted rigidity. A film of oil of infinitesimal thinness between moving surfaces keeps these coöperative. Touching is fatal, and anointing with oil still remains an important ceremony in the machinery kingdom.
This is a very deliberate figure, this in overalls, that finally puts out his torch, climbs four vertical steps to the engine deck, wipes and deposits the can on its shelf, and, rubbing his hands on a bunch of waste, sits down with the air of an artist who is entirely competent to perform. The complex pattern of the boiler head is on his left, slightly illuminated by the gauge lamps. He is like an organist with his keys and stops, and it is a great music that will come out of his organ, too.
Four short small blasts on the air whistle indicate that the air brakes should be set to see if all are working properly. He turns the little brass handle of the train-brake control. There is a sharp hiss, and under every car Mr. George Westinghouse’s triple valve makes its acknowledgment and the brake shoes come up against the wheels with slight sighs and whispers, to be released later when the inspector signals the cab that all are in order. Westinghouse has been dead for fifteen years, but these metallic children of his brain — these ideas hardened into iron and bronze — are unfailing in their responses and lay their cool curved hands upon the feverish racing tires that irresponsible gravitation invites to desperate adventures in speed — and inevitable destruction. The air brake is a device which unlocked the future of railroad travel rather more definitely than any other single thing, and was a timely mercy to trainmen.
One can imagine the early days, — if not old enough to have seen them, — when brakemen, at a whistle summons from the cab, came out on to swaying platforms in rain or snow, night and day, and twisted wheels until the rattling antiquities somehow got stopped. And consider the men on freight trains, running along narrow footboards, and having, in addition to this deadly hazard, to couple all cars with the link and pin, the hand jerked away so frequently just too late to avoid the terrible mutilation. The master car builder’s automatic coupler banished this atrocious menace long since.
George Westinghouse and the automatic-coupler people did their jobs and went their way, their ideas so much more durable than they, but every time you hear the ‘ whissss-pered ’ song of the obscure and faithful mechanism of the air brake under your car, or the jar of coupling, you may take it as a symbol of the praise of millions of men devoted to handling trains. Let them content themselves, these dead, though no choir ever sang for them, ‘For all the Saints, who from their labours rest.’
I hand my permit to the gentleman on the right, whose name is Clifford Bray, engineer of the Federal Express on this particular night. I am introduced to the fireman, by name N. S. Buckley.
Here are two people entrusted with the most exacting and nicely balanced responsibility, which can only be successfully discharged after years of training in a school where mistakes are intolerable. And their own responsibilities dovetail into those of a great many other people. The failure of one breaks up the design, and the whole thing falls apart.
Therefore it is that devices are steadily replacing human senses, having, when fully developed, a smaller percentage of error, so that we have even got to the mechanical man in the power station who can hear you when you give him correct orders, but is deaf to every entreaty to do the wrong thing.
Mr. Bray and his assistant are most friendly and anxious that the trip shall be comfortable as well as educational. You are proud to have their distinguished consideration. It is this sort of people, as I said before, whom you should be able to count among the friends of your family in the interest of your boys and girls, who may thereby be saved from the sterility of the caste mind and grow in grace as well as in stature.
We talked of various things before it was time to go: of the financial troubles of the Brotherhood, of automatic stokers and of feed water heaters, and finally of the new train-control device whereby the outdoor signals — the signals of the block system — are reproduced in the cab. Not only that, but a Klaxon horn blows beside the engineer’s ear if he runs past a red light, and if he does not acknowledge these cab warnings by turning a little handle within four seconds, the train stops itself.
I had a feeling that it was something of an indignity to take things out of an engineer’s hands in this way, but was assured that he welcomed anything which relieved the strain of running in very bad weather, and especially in fog.
It is eight o’clock. Mr. Bray looks down the line of cars and sees the conductor’s hand raised. A slight pull of the lever in front of him and at last steam at 250 pounds, and superheated, finds a way out and rushes along the passages, only to be confronted by two pistons which must be moved first. After that, freedom again; the whole envelope of the earth to play about in, but first push those pistons! Two hundred and fifty pounds against two areas twenty-four inches in diameter. Work that out, you prep-school boys, and also take into consideration the leverage on the drivers and get the torsion, and make mathematics mean something more than it usually does.
You will find it is enough to turn those six drivers and start that ponderous procession rolling in a most suave and dignified manner and without a slip, such is the weight with which those six arcs press upon the rails, a weight equalized between them so that each gets exactly its sixth — no more, no less.
If only old James Watt, released from his monument in Westminster Abbey, the man who, ‘by the improvement of the steam engine, enlarged the resources of his country, increased the power of man, and rose to an eminent place among the most illustrious followers of science and the real benefactors of the world,’ could see this, and Richard Trevithick, George Stephenson, Oliver Evans, and Peter Cooper.
What convincing proof of the indostructibility of a good idea! The whole universe conspires to promote a good idea and to destroy a bad one. It is impossible to make a bad idea succeed. If the idea of Prohibition, as we call it, is a good idea, nothing can stop it, and its goodness consists in its kinship with other unstoppable ideas such as this locomotive illustrates, for alcohol in the brain and rapid transit for the body are mutually exclusive unless you are heading for the cemetery.
Getting out of the yard is a matter of understanding the pattern of reds and greens spread over the ground or suspended in the night sky. Swerving right and left, the front wheels of the locomotive, like the antennæ of a beetle, feel their way with their one and one-eighth inch flanges through the intricacies of frogs and switches and conduct all the following wheels out on to the main line.
Men in various towers along the way have dotted out the pattern which this shuttle shall weave. Once out, the pattern changes. The electric interlockingswitch system, with its provision for prevention of confusion in a situation that invites confusion every minute of the day and night, is another device whose stars of green and red sing quite the same song as Haydn’s and Addison’s in acclaiming ‘the hand that made us.’
The man in the tower cannot, by any manipulation or by any precipitation, make the mechanism which he operates by pushing buttons produce a collision. A train persisting on a wrong track and passing red lights ’ comes to earth ’ — that is, forfeits the track and gets down on its knees in humble apology — before it can collide with any other train. One can imagine the humiliation of the engineer who has put his engine on the ground.
Therefore we go cautiously, with a subdued expression from the stack and a quiet pulse throughout.
But once outside the yard the tempo changes rapidly from andante to allegro, and in a short time it is evident to the visitor in the cab that nothing but the most merciless scrutiny of the fitness of every element of this thunderbolt — non-human and human — makes such an exhibition other than desperate recklessness.
The track looks like nothing, and the strains put upon it by this headlong monster as it crashes through switches over crossings and around curves seem utterly disproportionate.
The machine has reached a great pitch in its rhythm. All the vibrations merge into one terrific note, a kind of music, a song — the hallelujah of Pacific 4-6-2 in full flight! Behind, the long lethargic tail has been fully awakened from its apathy, and every truck is getting that heady expression of the runaway, forgetting those curved hands hanging beside each wheel, and one other hand — in the cab.
It is quite incredible that people in those cars should be engaged in the occupations suited to houses and hotels with equal confidence that nothing to interrupt those occupations will occur. It looks as though a shrieking catastrophe, an unspeakable horror of blood and bones mixed with steel and steam, could happen momentarily, as though we were skirting the extreme edge of the world of reason and order.
Everything is shadowy, vibrating, and filled with a great clamor and a great purpose. The gauges are plain enough, with figures and pointers and the water gauge with that wavering line in the glass tube to show how far the crown sheet is covered.
The engineer is a striking figure, also the fireman. You can’t adequately describe them because there is too much emotion in the picture. It is life on the stretch illuminated vaguely or by intermittent Hoods of gold light as the fire door opens. Mr. Bray is seen engaged in locomotive running. That is his profession, practised for forty-three years. At the peak of the speed he calmly takes off his glasses and wipes them with a clean white handkerchief and with the somewhat weary expression of a grandfather reading in a bad light.
Buckley’s stalwart arms gleam as they swing the great spoon between the coal pile and those vertically split lips which open and emit a fierce burst of sunlight from the carboniferous age as he presses a treadle with his left foot. It is a giant’s job. The automatic stoker, not yet on this engine, is saving firemen from premature disability and death as they slowly work their way toward the engineer’s seat through the uncertainties of seniority.
Signals flash by: green — green — green. Stations are leaped over and lines of freight cars roar back at us.
Everything is just out of the way by inches. Crossings are illuminated for a few seconds by the headlight before we are on the other side. The whole thing seems uncontrollable in its frenzied desire to reach a destination somewhere, anywhere, — in the ditch or at New Haven, — on time. (At the other end of the scale see Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit looking at its watch.)
The air streams with horizontal arrows of rain which beat like stones upon the little storm window projecting enough to produce a slight shield.
‘Yellow board! ’ says Buckley behind me, and Mr. Bray repeats, ‘Yellow board.’ as, instead of the procession of greens, a yellow eye emerges in the darkness. ‘Too bad,’ says Buckley; ‘just when we were going a little.’ The engineer has shut off steam, and presently Buckley speaks again, ‘Red eye!’ he says, and ‘Red eye’ comes from the other side, as the distant spark enlarges with its peremptory demand to stop.
There is the dainty operation with the air which shall reduce speed gradually, and the whole enormous fabrication with its unseeing and unknowing inhabitants comes to a softly graduated stand by a signal tower, its shattering impetuosity reduced to perfect silence except for the panting air pumps, exactly like an animal slightly out of wind.
Mr. Bray — lantern in hand — climbs down and walks in the rain and swaying shadows, a slow, deliberate figure like a farmer going about chores, to the tower, returning presently with instructions to wait for an East-bound train to get off the West-bound track to which it had to be switched in order to avoid an obstruction down the line. Presently here comes the intruder, headlight increasing in intensity until, with a sudden lurch, it bends to the left and sweeps by on its own rails — a stream of yellow lights, and, at the end, two diminishing reds.
Red goes to green. Four whistles to call in the flag, and again the procession begins to roll, and Mr. Bray wishes to make up time, for with four minutes’ delay at Back Bay we are now fifteen minutes late.
The sharp high-pressure snorts from the stack change to legato as the engineer sets the valves from starting to running position, — that is, from using steam at boiler pressure to using steam expansively, — thereby saving coal and, incidentally, firemen.
I again have the sensation of extreme hazard as we get into our stride, and the pounds of the driving and connecting rods flinging their tons of weight back and forth five times a second merge into a deep and even vibration, the whole machine humming like a top. The strains involved in transmitting steam pressure to cranks on the drivers are multiplied thirty-five to forty times by the strains due to centrifugal forces at this speed.
One can understand why locomotive people must be without streaks of phosphorus in their characters. The little men who rise up each day, as Kipling says, to buy and sell again cannot be trusted in the making of these things.
At nine we get the yard signal at Providence, red and green, indicating, ‘Look out for switching to track 3.’ We reach the switch under control, swing across, curve through narrow passages as though we were ashamed to be seen, and finally emerge and roll in solemn grandeur into the lighted hall and stop, with a slight shiver from the brake shoes — on time.
You say good-bye to two people you have been privileged to associate with for a stirring hour and go your way conscious of having been part of an ensemble as full of elemental harmony as a Bach fugue.
Now all this calls for appraisal in something other than mechanical terms. It will not do to dismiss the subject as related only to the externalities of life.
The thing that has been done is significant of the perfection to which integration — team play — can be brought, so that it is not only possible but safe to do these things every day. It is also significant, as I said at the beginning, as a symbol — as a picture of the way the mind of man works toward fulfillment of desire.
These fulfillments in machinery — do they release the human spirit in proportion as they release the body? They certainly should, but all the indications are that they do not. It remains to be seen what they will do. ‘What has been concluded,’ said William James, ‘that we may conclude anything?’ The Pyramids concluded nothing, the Cathedrals concluded nothing, the Apostles’ Creed concluded nothing. And applied science and the ‘machine age’ will conclude nothing unless, by fostering the idea that men can, in return for tribute to Cæsar, get nutriment for their souls, society blows up in some enormous disaster.
One might say that all this machinery belongs on the horizontal plane, and on that plane the spirit of man cannot live. It starves without a vertical dimension. Mechanical horizontalism may easily be a net woven with prodigious labor, skill, and devotion, — with perfect single-mindedness, — ‘the fabric of the world.’ But it is possible, and it is also a very general practice, for the makers of this web to stick in it, to become hopelessly entangled in it, and for them and us together to perish there unless we can also spin upward, and therefore mount upward and get a different view of things.
That view of things will reveal one positive fact — namely, that, though nothing has been concluded, the spirit has lived exclusively on beauty, and that of all the aspects of beauty the beauty of human relationships is the most important.
Meantime the prayer that we offer in our work of whatever sort, hand or brain, has to come back to something like Cardinal Newman’s ‘Lux Benigna,’ and this is a light which does not shine from forgo, foundry, or fire box.